On 6/15/2011 9:31 AM, Eric Hellman wrote:
> Clearly, Jonathan has gone through the process of getting his library to think through the integration, and it seems to work.

Thank you!

> Has there been any opposition?

Not opposition exactly, but it doesn't work perfectly, and people are 
unhappy when it doesn't work. It can sometimes find the _wrong_ match on 
a 'foreign' site like Amazon etc.  Or avoid finding a right one of course.

Or the definition of right/wrong can be not entirely clear too -- on a 
bib record for a video of an opera performed, is it right or wrong to 
supply a link to the print version of the opera? What if the software 
isn't smart enough to _tell_ you it's an alternate format (it's not), 
and the link is just in the single flat list of links?

Also issues with avoiding duplicate double URLs when things are in bib 
records AND in SFX kb AND maybe looked for otherwise by Umlaut. (we have 
_some_ HathiTrust URLs in our bib records, that came that way from OCLC, 
who knew?)

These things get really complicated, quickly.  I am constantly finding 
time to do more tweaking, but it'll never be perfect, so people have to 
get used to lack of perfection. Still when I ask, okay, this 
HathiTrust/Amazon/Google linking feature is not going to be perfect, 
would you rather keep it with imperfections we may not be able to fix, 
or eliminate it -- nobody says eliminate.

> What are the reasons that this sort of integration not more widespread? Are they technical or institutional? What can be done by producers of open access content to make this work better and easier? Are "unified" approaches being touted by vendors delivering something really different?

I think they are mostly technical.  This stuff is _hard_, because of the 
(lack of) quality of our own metadata, the lack of quality of third 
party metadata, the lack of sufficient APIs and Services, and the lack 
of a local technical infrastructure to support tying everythign together.

So on the one hand, I'm trying to find time for an overhaul of Umlaut to 
make it easier for people to install and maintain, and I'm hoping I can 
get some more adoption at that point.  To at least provide some open 
source "local technical infrastructure". Umlaut is intentionally 
designed to be as easy as possible to integrate with your existing 
catalog or other service points, as well as to provide 'just in time' 
services from third party external searches -- that's it's mission, this 
kind of just-in-time service. ("easy as possible" -- or as easy as I can 
make it, which sometimes still isn't easy enough, especially if you 
don't have local technical resources).

But still, it's metadata, metadata, metadata.  So what can producers of 
open access content do to make this work better and easier?

1) Have good metadata for their content, especially including as many 
identifiers as possible -- ISBN, OCLCnum, LCCN.   Even if you aren't an 
OCLC member and don't have an "OCLC record", if you can figure out what 
OCLC record represents this thing you've got, list it in the metadata.  
Even if the ISBN/OCLCnum/LCCN doesn't represent the _exact_ same thing, 
list it -- ideally somehow identified as 'an alternate manifestation'.  
Also have author, title, publisher, publication year  metadata.  If you 
can have author metadata as an NAF/VIAF controlled form or identifier, 
even better.  Metadata is expensive, but metadata is valuable, the 
better it is, the better Umlaut's approach can work.

Share the metadata publically, in case someone wants to do something 
with it.

2) Provide an API that allows lookup of your open access content, 
searching against the good metadata from #1. Including identifier 
searches.  The thing is, each of (dozens, hundreds, thousands) of open 
access content providers having such an API --- it's a burdensome 
expense for each of them, but it's also unrealistic for client software 
to talk to dozens/hundreds/thousands of APIs.

So this stuff needs to be aggregated in fewer major service points.  It 
could be an aggregator of just metadata that links to content hosted on 
individual hosts, or it could be an aggregator of content itself. Either 
way, it needs a good API based on good metadata. "Google" doesn't work 
as such an aggregator, the APIs it has are too limited functionally and 
by ToS, and the results do not have sufficient metadata.  Maybe the 
Internet Archive does -- although IA's API's and metadata are sometimes 
a bit sketchy (If you do put it in IA, make sure it somehow shows in the 
"Open Library" section and it's APIs -- the OL API's IA has are 
sufficient for Umlaut's use, but general Internet Archive APIs are 
not).  Or maybe a new aggregator(s) have to be collectively created.